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Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorce

By now, you have undoubtedly heard that Katie Holmes filed papers to divorce her husband of six years, Tom Cruise. Holmes filed for divorce in late June, citing irreconcilable differences.

According to new sources, Holmes was becoming uncomfortable with Scientology, Cruise's religion, especially as it related to raising the couple's daughter, Suri. (Of course, a celebrity news source never captures the full, often complicated, picture of what causes divorce.)

Holmes and Cruise are attempting to negotiate visitation, child support and property division. They would prefer to keep their divorce outside of the courtroom and the public eye.

Managing reputations during divorce

The number of news sources that have highlighted the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorce show how significant this divorce is in the public eye. While both parties want to keep the divorce private to safeguard their personal lives as well as their reputations, they will have a hard time doing so.

News sources are already discussing how the divorce might impact the celebrities' reputations. While divorce may actually help Holme's image by increasing interest in her and sympathy for her plight, it may tarnish Cruise's image. Tom Cruise is a mega star who is already facing questions about his religious beliefs and how those beliefs affect his personal life.

Privacy is important to all couples, not only celebrities. A divorce can affect relationships with extended family members, friends and even coworkers. Just as the Cruise/Holmes divorce has nothing to do with their careers but will nonetheless affect them, a divorce can have an effect on anyone's reputation and change expectations of privacy, especially a contentious courtroom divorce.

Thankfully, there are options to keep the specifics of a divorce away from the public eye. As Holmes and Cruise are attempting to do, negotiating outside of the courtroom is one option. Couples can also choose to go through mediation. During mediation, a third-party neutral works with both parties to come to a mutually beneficial solution outside of court. The mediation agreement is generally a private, binding agreement.

Finally, an experienced divorce lawyer can take steps to reduce the impact of a divorce on all parties involved.

Source: Mass live.com, "Child custody, public image at stake in Tom Cruise - Katie Holmes divorce," Associated Press, June 30, 2012.

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